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4. Actor 2013

A work which investigates the narrative possibilities of the motion capture suit, part of an ongoing investigation of the implications of new technologies for meaning in the moving image. The MoCap suit captures an actor’s performance without a camera, into a computer programme, from which both the physical appearance of the character and the camera movements can be later generated by the filmmaker.

In Actor, the performer was captured using the suit, and turned in computer post production into a knight in armour. He recites the missing last chapter (Chapter 21) of Anthony Burgess’s Clockwork Orange, the final redemptive passage which was omitted in the American edition of the novel and subsequent Kubrick film.

Whist this technique has been used widely with dancers, and commercial animation, it has been hardly explored by artists (although Beverley Hood has done some work on bodies and representation). One reason is the complexity and cost of the equipment, which was enabled for me by a collaboration with the MMU engineer Dr. Peter Twigg, who is himself interested in gait analysis through motion capture.

The resulting lifelike figure is clothed in a computer generated avatar, which appears real but not quite real, a phenomenon described by the roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970 as the “uncanny valley”.

Shown at the Burgess Foundation, Manchester and at a curated exhibition at Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre on the theme of Appropriation, March to May 2013. along with Doug Fishbone, Susan Collins, and others.

A related conference presentation with engineer Dr. Peter Twigg exploring the themes behind the research made in November 2011 at CARPE Utrecht was published Feb 2012 as “Motion Capture – Art, Technology & Collaboration” in Applied Research and Professional Education – Proceedings from the first CARPE networking conference in Utrecht, 2012.

Actor at Bangkok Arts and Cultural CentreActor at Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre